Monday, September 19, 2011

This is What a World-Class Campus Looks Like - The Environment & Energy Building

This is What a World-Class Campus Looks Like is a new series where I show you all the stuff that blows my mind about the Stanford University campus.
The Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Energy Building.
When my parents came to visit Stanford, I made sure to take them to see the new Environment & Energy building in the Engineering quad. This is the building where my program is located and where I'll have lab classes. I wanted them to get a sense of what makes this school different; it's not just the increased prestige and opportunity, it's something you can appreciate on a day-to-day basis.

Before you even enter the building, you get a sense from the surrounding buildings that the architects used their full arsenal when designing the Engineering quad.
The nearby Huang Engineering building, with arches, patios and a hexagonal library.
The nearby Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology - note the solar panels on the roof.
The first thing you notice, as I mentioned before, is that the building is separated, not by department, but by global research area.
Innovation doesn't discriminate at Y2E2.
There are four atria - each representing a different global system - and the offices and labs are clustered around these classifications.
The green atrium basement - representing Fresh Water. 
The blue atrium basement - representing Marine and Oceans.
Looking up from the blue atrium basement up to the sunlight above.
They really take this theme to heart. In each atria there are murals which represent the connections to people who are grouped in the other atria. How's that for interdisciplinary research?
If you're going to commit to an idea, you might as well make it all-encompassing.
Of course, everything else is also top-notch. The classrooms are new, the building is energy-efficient and there are Macs everywhere. If they want the researchers to be modern and cutting-edge, then the building goes a long way in making you feel that way.
Text in the red atrium describing all of the energy efficiency innovations in Y2E2. 
A monitor showing how energy efficient Y2E2 is being at any given time. 
The scale for the efficiency light.
Right now it's at the design goal. Y2E2 is using  ~56%  less energy than a typical office building.
Of course, the savings aren't just limited to energy. Water gets in on the act too! 
After we visited Y2E2, my parents thought it was the most interesting part of campus. They expected the history and the prestige, but they hadn't grasped the attention to detail with which Stanford applies to every facet of its education.

In my welcome package, I received a letter that said:
We offer the finest faculty as teachers and mentors; abundant resources so you can pursue ideas you find intriguing; and our support for you to fully realize your aspirations. During your time at Stanford, remember that you are never alone. Ask for help when you need it, and you will find many people ready to extend a hand. Indeed, the entire University community takes responsibility for—and pride in—your success.
From now on you can reap the benefits of Stanford’s reputation, and you have the reciprocal responsibility for adding to its legacy. We hope that this fact will inspire rather than intimidate you.
In other words, we're giving you everything you need to succeed - now go do it.


  1. way to change your blog background to argyle, HIPSTER.

    also, i sense a little "in yo' face waterloo"-ness about this post. would that be accurate of how you're feeling right now?

  2. Hey! I liked argyle BEFORE IT WAS COOL (just kidding, no I didn't, I'm a total hipster B) ).

    I guess I can't hide my bit of anti-Waterloo sentiment. When I left Vancouver for school in Waterloo, I thought I was joining a real upper echelon of higher education...I guess I was kind of disappointed from that. That said, I wouldn't be where I am without Waterloo and I definitely cherished my time there. But the contrast between here and Waterloo is just too great - there's no comparison.

    I also felt a little taken aback by what Neil Thomson told me at Ethel's that night. He said, "You're going to regret it. We have students come back all the time, saying, 'Oh it was so much better here at Waterloo!' and we tell them we told them so." So that kind of freaked me out at first, but I have no idea where all of that was coming from. Why try to alienate a former student?